Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Hastings Museum & Art Gallery, Sunday 12 September 2021. Organised by Hastings Community of Sanctuary raising funds for Hastings Supports Refugees.

Sanctuary Festival 2022

Musicians and artists join a day of community, creativity and hope on Saturday 25 & Sunday 26 June 2022 at Hastings Museum & Art Gallery. Sanctuary Festival sends a simple message of welcome to all, with some of Hastings’ best musicians and artists once again showing their support for the act of seeking sanctuary. Dominika Hicks writes.

Organised by Hastings Community of Sanctuary, hosted by Hastings Museum & Art Gallery and raising funds for Hastings Supports Refugees, the festival celebrates the power of community, of creativity and of hope. The event comes at the end of Refugee Week, a UK-wide festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary. The Refugee Week theme this year is ‘Healing’ and the festival will be exploring healing through creativity and nature.

On Saturday 25 June, 7-10pm, it’s the Sanctuary Comedy Special in partnership with Freedom From Torture East Sussex and the Hastings Comedy Fringe. Laughter is often the best medicine and there will be laughs a plenty with four fantastic acts to entertain you: Tom Mayhew, VG Lee, Nick Elleray and Lauren Douglin – with Tim ‘Bavard Bar’ Crook as your MC.

There will be an auction to raise funds for Freedom From Torture and The Refugee Buddy Project, and we’re delighted to be launching Hastings’ newest micro-brewery, The Hastings Project, who are donating profits from the night.  Tickets are £10, available Hastings City of Sanctuary.

Sunday 26 June is the main Sanctuary Festival, now in its sixth year, kicking off at midday and free to all. In the grounds of Hastings Museum, you will find live music, creative workshops, storytellers, drumming, community stalls, fun for kids, food and friends.

The music line-up includes Izzy Withers, Jiggery Pokery, Gail Edmunds, the Ashburnham International Choir, The Shady Pines, Barefoot Opera, festival regulars Jamal & Alaa, Marie White and Hastings’ hottest funk band, Plunk. We’re also delighted to welcome the Romany Diamonds, three generations of a traditional Gypsy Roma family playing acoustic magic with fire and soul, and sharing stories of Romany culture through their partnership with Kent-based Shiva Nova.

There are lots of creative things to do throughout the day. Afri-Co-Lab are inviting you to patch & mend to give clothes a new lease of life. Bring an item with you and learn the magic of visible mending.

Artist Sarah Evans is interested in how we find healing in nature.  She will be creating an installation from people’s responses and you will find her under the trees in front of the Museum’s entrance.  You can also visit one of the town’s hidden natural treasures with tours of the Bohemia Walled Garden.

There will be two unusual opportunities to get your portrait done at the festival.  Flash Portraits will be happening throughout the day with a rolling team of artists capturing your likeness to raise funds. You can also see some of the portraits created during the Afri-Co-Lab Drawathon. Epiphany make portraits through sound! With instruments and voices they use improvised music as a means of creating a ‘sound portrait’ of the people they play for, who may find themselves portrayed as they’ve never been before!

Inside the museum there will be fascinating talks and discussions. ‘Routes to Healing’ will explore how people heal from traumatic events like war, displacement and torture, with speakers from the UN High Commission for Refugees, Freedom From Torture, The Refugee Buddy Project and poet, Loraine Mponela.

‘Art in Detention’ will discuss the dreadful impact on people of detention, and how art and creativity can help and support. The panel includes Bella Sankey from Detention Action and the Napier Barracks art project. Our final session will be an opportunity to discuss the government’s Rwanda plan, the impact it will have and how we can respond.

With so much turmoil around the world at this time, Sanctuary Festival reminds us that community and creativity really do make a difference at a local level. Festival organiser, and Co-Chair of Hastings Community of Sanctuary, Polly Gifford says: “It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of what’s happening in Ukraine, in Afghanistan and in the Channel to name just a few of the terrible situations we read about daily.  But we can have an impact in our town and in our communities. People in Hastings have always shown amazing support for refugees and people seeking asylum and Sanctuary Festival exists because of that support. It’s a great family day out that also sends a strong message of solidarity – we hope you will join us.”

The full programme will be posted on the Hastings Community of Sanctuary website and on the Hastings Supports Refugees Facebook page. Tickets for the Comedy Special are available from Eventbrite. Please note that there is no parking on site except for blue badge holders.

City of Sanctuary 

City of Sanctuary is a national movement, made up of local organisations, community groups, businesses and individuals, who are together building a culture of welcome for people seeking sanctuary in the UK. Its goal is to create a network of towns and cities throughout the country which strive to be places of safety, and where people seeking sanctuary are fully part of the local community.

Hastings joined the City of Sanctuary movement in 2017 and decided to call ourselves Hastings Community of Sanctuary, as it reflects the strong community support in the town for refugees and people seeking asylum. Hastings Community of Sanctuary grew out of local community group Hastings Supports Refugees, which now sits under the umbrella of HCoS. Both groups are run by volunteers.

Hastings Community of Sanctuary 

Hastings Community of Sanctuary works to raise awareness of the issues facing refugees and people seeking asylum, runs collections for essential items and raises funds to help people in Hastings and overseas. Projects include the annual Sanctuary Festival, The People’s Boutique, the Beach Response Team (with Hastings Supports Refugees) and Schools of Sanctuary.  We are also supporting Hastings Library and Hastings Museum & Art Gallery to get their Sanctuary Awards.  We campaign on national issues such as Lift the Ban (to enable people seeking asylum to work which they are currently not allowed to do) and opposing the Nationalities & Borders Bill that has now passed into law.

Find out more on our website: or via the Facebook page we share with Hastings Supports Refugees. If you’re interested in volunteering with us, please contact

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Thank you for your continued support!

Posted 14:51 Wednesday, Jun 15, 2022 In: One Long Party


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  1. Catherine Taylor

    I am looking forward to the Festival.

    Reading the comments below I can only suggest to these folk that they come and along and meet those gathered.
    The organisers and supporters are people just like you who want to celebrate our town and recognise the struggles and injustice endured by many thousands seeking to live a life free of war, exploitation and oppression.

    A cup of tea and chat may change your view?
    See you soon.

    Comment by Catherine Taylor — Saturday, Jun 18, 2022 @ 13:01

  2. Nikki

    I fully support the work of the Hastings Supports Refugees charity and other charities involved and we will be attending and supporting. It looks like an amazing event.

    Comment by Nikki — Thursday, Jun 16, 2022 @ 11:46

  3. AA

    I, in common with the British majority, do not welcome economic migrants who enter the UK illegally from an already safe country, who pay money to traffickers, and who wilfully destroy any documentation that will identify them and their countries of origin.

    I do not welcome economic migrants who make use of undercover ‘hubs’ that train them in how to lie, in order to obtain ongoing financial and other help funded by British tax-payers.

    The above is based on information supplied by these economic migrants.

    Britain has always welcomed genuine refugees.

    These misguided ‘do-gooders’ should check their facts before launching themselves into such impulsive and foolish activities. Their ‘look at us, aren‘t we noble’ efforts are merely virtue signalling of a pointless and unhelpful kind.

    Comment by AA — Thursday, Jun 16, 2022 @ 08:29

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